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Partying too hard could lead to serious criminal charges

The semester's over! Final exams are finally out of the way, so this means it's time to party, right? If you're attending some parties this year before heading home or for the holidays, know that your "participation" could lead to some pretty serious criminal charges if the cops get called. Also, if you are old enough to drink and share alcohol with underage friends, you too risk facing criminal charges.

In either case, the consequences you might face due to a conviction can seriously impact your future. Here are some of the charges college students can face when parties get out of hand.

Underage drinking and furnishing alcohol to a minor

If you are under 21 years old, it's illegal to drink alcohol, even in moderation. Maryland, like many states, employs a "zero tolerance" law, meaning anyone under the age of 21 found with a blood alcohol concentration over 0.00 percent can be criminally charged.

Additionally, if you host a party and knowingly serve alcohol to those underage, you could also be held responsible if your friend gets pulled over or injures him- or herself as a result of intoxication. Fines can be as high as $2,500 if you're convicted of furnishing alcohol to a minor.

That said, the law makes some exceptions to underage drinking in certain limited situations where drinking is minimal and supervised by a parent or spouse, like having a glass of wine at your family's holiday gathering or taking a sip of wine at a religious service. Again, the emphasis is that this is the occasional one glass - not an all-night rager or weekend bender.

Other recreational drugs

At many college parties, alcohol isn't the only substance present. Possessing and using various illegal drugs - including marijuana in Maryland still - at a party or anywhere else can lead to criminal charges. Generally, the more of an illegal substance that the person has in their possession or blood stream, the more serious the criminal charges. Selling, or intending to sell will also magnify the charges, which can include heavy fines, jail time, and potentially a felony mark on the person's record.

Felony charges have serious ramifications not only for your immediate freedom but also the future. Felony charges will stay on your record unless expunged, and could lead to expulsion from school, the loss of scholarships or financial aid and future job opportunities.

Disruptions and disorderly contact

Sometimes, you can't just contain all the fun, but excessive noise or rowdy behaviors could lead to charges for disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace. In some schools, these charges lead not only to fines or jail time, but could lead to disciplinary action or even suspension.

Assaults and sexual assault

Most people want to simply enjoy themselves at a party, but things can definitely get out of hand, especially when alcohol and other substances are involved. Assault charges, including sexual assault or sexual misconduct, are some of the most serious and public charges someone can face. Penalties for conviction often lead to expulsion, huge fines and jail time. Not only that, reputations and futures can be ruined as a result of public charges.

Those under the influence of alcohol or drugs may misinterpret signals or become overly aggressive. Therefore, it's important to be vigilant about your personal safety and that of your friends - even while partying and having an otherwise good time. If you do come under fire for these serious charges, which are sometimes made out of spite or for revenge, it's very important to have solid legal representation.

Protecting your future

The college experience is supposed to be memorable and lead to new opportunities and a brighter future. However, if you've been charged with a crime related to underage drinking or partying, it is important that you get help from a qualified criminal law attorney. In many cases, he or she can look work to protect your rights and minimize any negative impact for the future.

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